Presidential Elections

Candidates put emphasis on regions in final campaign pushes

With Gabriel Boric visiting cities like Antogafasta in the north and José Antonio Kast heading to his loyal base down south, the presidential candidates are leaving the capital in the last days of the presidential campaign. Both close their campaigns on Thursday, Dec. 16, during separate events in the Metropolitan Region. Three days later, Chileans go to the polls to choose their next president.

An ambitious, personal campaign, where thousands of volunteers, headed by well-known faces from the Chilean left, are knocking doors throughout Chile will see its end this week, as Gabriel Boric closes his campaign on Thursday, Dec. 16. With the support of, among others, new campaign chief Izkia Siches, Communist Representative Karol Cariola, and Socialist ex-candidate Paula Narvaéz, the campaign of the left-wing candidate has reached the most rural villages in the country. The goal: to reach a million homes across Chile and spread his campaign message to every corner of the country.

Soon after the primaries, Boric made his intentions clear of going for those who have lost confidence in politics by convincing and activating them. His next stop is Antofagasta, in northern Chile, where many protest voters opted for Franco Parisi in the first round. In bigger cities, big concerts and cultural events in support for Boric were organized. In cities like Chillán, Talca, and Concepción, such concerts were held in recent days with performances by well-known artists such as Nano Stern, Ana Tijoux, and Violeta Parra-impersonator Francisca Gavilán.

Regarding his political program, Boric has refused to radically change his program, despite incorporating proposals from former candidates Yasna Provoste and Marco Enríquez-Ominami. He nevertheless managed to get the support from the center left and the Christian Democratic Party. Another possible gamechanger in these last days might be the explicit support from ex-president Michelle Bachelet, who is in Chile to celebrate Christmas with her family. Although some expected the UN Human Rights chief to stay away from any political declarations, Bachelet already met in private with Boric and expressing public support might be the last push to victory for Boric, as Bachelet is still immensely popular in her home country.

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Kast goes back to the base

Whereas Boric heads north to convince those who voted for Parisi, Kast already went north immediately after the first round and won the support of Parisi himself. To present the right-wing as a united front, Kast visited well-known mayors and had presidents of the current coalition publicly declaring their unconditional support for the controversial candidate. To win back the vote of women, Kast incorporated former Health Undersecretary Paula Daza and Providencia mayor Evelyn Matthei in his campaign, as well as Sebastián Sichel’s former spokeswoman, Katherine Martorell.

These candidates will head to different parts of the country to spread Kast’s message, which is mainly focused on reinstating public order and combating crime. The last regions the candidate will visit are the parts he has won most votes in recent elections: the Biobío and La Araucanía regions. The southern regions are the stage of an ongoing rural conflict, in which Kast has shown himself a supporter of employing the army. He will visit Concepción on Tuesday, Dec. 14, and will head to Temuco on Wednesday.

In the meantime, many things remain unclear about Kast’s political program. Some of the most controversial ideas about the program he used in the first round were eliminated in the updated version, but even then, campaign workers said his program wasn’t to be taken too seriously. Possibly a safe bet to avoid debates if Kast gets elected president on Sunday – a big if, because Boric is leading in most surveys, surveys that are not always to be trusted but that were not wrong in the first round of the elections. For both candidates, to the end this race will remain a thrill ride.

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